As difficult as it is for some women to begin
breastfeeding, it's even harder for others to say goodbye to
While lifestyle and career demands can make it
difficult to breastfeed as long as you would like, don't be surprised if
weaning your baby presents even more challenges -- at least at the
"The pleasant hormonal effects of nursing, along
with the satisfying emotional bonding, can make it very hard for some women to
stop breastfeeding, even if their life or their lifestyle demands that they do
so," says Myrtle Hodge, RN, a lactation expert at Maimonides Medical Center in
Brooklyn, New York.
In addition, says Hodge, mom may find it even
more difficult to stop if baby loses interest first.
"When the baby decides he or she has had enough, mom
can feel devastated that her baby doesn't want or need her anymore," says
Hodge. "Many women feel very sad and upset."
At the same time, some babies may feel rejected when
mom initiates the weaning process, especially if co-sleeping was part of
"If your baby was sleeping with you because of
breastfeeding conveniences, and then suddenly, no more breastfeeding means they
are now sleeping on their own, they can feel a sense of rejection, which can
result in some crankiness or difficulty sleeping for a short time," says
When weaning older children from breastfeeding --
toddlers up to 2 or even 3 years old -- Hodge says moms should expect some
acting out and anger from their children.
"Sometimes the child will get so angry and feel so
deprived when nursing stops they can become very irritated with mom -- and
really give her a hard time," says Hodge.
Regardless of your child's age, if you are having
problems weaning experts say you can make the process easier for you and baby
if you maintain a close emotional bond in other ways.
"There is clearly a comforting aspect to
nursing, for mom but especially for baby. So you need to recognize that and to
incorporate some of that same close physical bonding and comfort into feeding
time, regardless of whether or not you are breastfeeding," says Adam Aponte,
MD, chairman of pediatrics and ambulatory care at North General Hospital in New